How you used to get people looking at your website before "going viral" was a thing, in the Web 1.0 days when people surfed the information superhighway by clicking on links to go from site to site.

1. The "Links" page! Every site had a page that was just links to other websites that the site owner thought were cool. You could email other site owners whose sites you thought were cool and ask if they thought your site was cool too, and they'd link back to you.

You don't see many links pages anymore for a couple of reasons. The most horrible thing about the modern internet is that the biggest websites like facebook and reddit and twitter and such are run by jerks and they set the tone; these weirdos want you to stay on their one website all day long, even when there's nothing new to read, so they don't have links pages, so people aren't exposed to links pages as part of general internet culture.

(never mind for now the fact that many of the biggest sites started off as links pages and then just started screenshotting the websites they once linked to, so people would never leave the big sites)

Second thing is google started off as a search engine that boosted sites based on how many links they had pointing back to them; google got so big that people set up "link farms" which were just spam websites that linked to legit sites (and eventually to other spam sites) and then google deranked links pages in like 2005. ㄟ(ツ)ㄏ

2. Webrings! These were great. For a while every site was part of a webring. Say you ran and wanted traffic from other gerbil sites, you'd join the Gerbil Enthusiast Webring, and paste some code into your HTML and you'd have a banner that pointed to, and visitors from would see a link to gerbilzone and you could traverse the sites in the whole gerbil webring until you'd seen them all and looped back around to the start (hence "ring").

Webrings let people interested in a site's topic browse through lots of other sites with the same topic to see what they had to say.

Obviously once you stumble into a webring you're going to spend a few hours happily browsing the ring, and that is NO GOOD FOR SEARCH ENGINES. They want you doing searches. So Yahoo bought Webring and killed it.

3. Banner exchanges! Back in the days when ads didn't routinely spy on you, you'd see a lot of 468*60 pixel images that were links to other websites. A lot of the time, no money was changing hands to show you these banners; these were other independent website owners who'd joined a banner exchange, often all as part of a common topic just like with webrings.

When someone visited your site, they'd get a randomly-chosen banner ad for another site within the group. You'd get one credit for showing someone else's banner, and then your site's banner would be shown on another website within the group.

You might have a banner from the Gerbil Exchange group so you knew your banner was being shown to people already interested in gerbils, and then a second one from a bigger, more general-purpose group for people who don't yet know that they like gerbils.

These also worked great, but annoyed search engines, google especially, so starting in the early to mid 2000's google deranked any site using a banner exchange. By then yahoo was as dead as it is now. ㄟ(ツ)ㄏ


These technologies were intended for small websites run by ordinary folks, and money didn't really factor into it, so they were killed by yahoo and google. I argue that it's time to bring them back in modern, federated form.

Yahoo isn't a thing anymore, and federated networks resist corporate takeover, so no threat there.

Google has turned into a pay-per-click search engine, so them threatening to derank you for using these technologies isn't much of a threat anymore, so no problem.

· · SubwayTooter · 2 · 16 · 43

If someone made Webring But Not By Yahoo, 1) would you sign up, and 2) given that yahoo owns the name, what's a better name?

I really want to emphasize again that technologies like banner exchanges, webrings, blogrolls and links pages didn't die off because people just stopped using them - they were, and are, a good idea and a great, low- or no-cost way for small hobby websites and communities to find each other and form connections.

They didn't fall out of favour because of changing times. They were deliberately hobbled or bought up and killed off by power-seeking corporations, because they were hard to monetize.

Seems this thread resonated with some folks, so I spent the tenner and registered a domain name. I've got some ideas about Returning To The Net that I'm starting to think might be related. Gonna probably write some modern engines for banner exchanges and webrings, maybe fire up the old reseller webhosting plan (I used to run a little web hosting company! I sold it because I wanted to focus on Improbable Island and coin-ops full time), run something that doesn't have to make money.

See, like, I've been thinking about how to destroy facebook in particular because I think it's been a net negative in the world.

The easy thing about destroying facebook is that almost everyone agrees it needs to be destroyed, but the hard thing is they wanna talk to their mates so they're still on it. Heck, I'm still on it. Often people leave and come back.

To leave facebook, you've gotta take your mates with you. And they've gotta take their mates.

The network effect that made facebook big can pretty easily be shifted into reverse gear; people started using it because other people started using it, and stopping is only hard because it's been running for a long time.

As long as people leave in little dribs and drabs here and there, we'll keep getting sucked back in. We need to move as one. So, we set a Moving Day - one a ways off, say a year or 18 months - and we spend the intervening time finding a nicer place and practicing using it.

No need to rush, let's take our time and talk about it (move slowly and mend things!) and make sure that we've got systems set up to replicate the important parts of what facebook does and that nobody gets left behind. And decide on the kind of culture we want to nurture in whatever the new place or places is or are.

It sounds bloody hard, to get all your mates to agree to a thing and to get them to get all their mates to go along with it too - but we already did it, is the thing, we did it when we *started* using facebook. Just gotta do it again but backwards this time.

@ifixcoinops COOL Sites (Circles Out Of Links). The logo could feature a pair of gradient circles with dots on them acting as nodes with the first one using warm colors (red through yellow, mostly reds) and the other using cool colors (green through true blue, mostly in the azure range).

@ifixcoinops I definitely would, if I had a website. Which is gradually starting to feel like a good idea again.

@ifixcoinops "gemring" seems to be picking up steam on gemini sites, which feels slightly unfortunate. I'm not convinced a derivative name does them justice.

@ifixcoinops I think we should just genericize the trademark, do to it what we did to dry ice, escalators, etc. Then Yahoo won't own anything. People are already using "webring" without Yahoo's permission and we should continue to do so.

I'm happy to eat a lawsuit if they are actually going to bother defending something they don't even use.

For now, the solution proposed the support button under the video. This button displays a frame in which people who upload videos can display text, images, and links freely (link to Patreon, Tipeee, Paypal, Liberapay…).

Don’t know when that will be implemented

@ifixcoinops I would say that it's not that true; they still are a lot of personal websites. The thing is, they are a lot more users on Internet, thus the majority of traffic goes to easy and 0 cost services, because it's easier. It's not easy to build a website. It takes time, knowledge, an actual server or money.

And for the control you loose over banners, and such, you can be online for a fraction of the cost and the time, buy just publishing on a third party service.

@kropot @ifixcoinops I don't think the problem was really ever a lack of monetization options. As @kropot notes, small sites have always cost next to nothing to operate.

It's more that Capital is always on the lookout for new popular things, because a new popular thing is a thing that can be bundled up and marketed and sold as a Product. So if you make something and it finds an audience, eventually Capital comes to your door, waving bags of money to try and get you to sell it.

@ifixcoinops Now I just wanna run around starting a bunch of webrings with all the folks in my networks who actually have websites.

@pixelpaperyarn fediring is a thing but it's... rather sparse and lacking in necessary features

@ifixcoinops Could go even simpler than that, too. Remember when people used to just keep a list of their friends in link lists on their blog?

@pixelpaperyarn I bought a while back with the intention of making it an index of link pages, where people with websites that have link pages could add theirs to the index in a similar vein to


@ifixcoinops I wasn't really on the internet when all of this was a thing, but it sounds really cool and I'm sad it's not how things work anymore

@ifixcoinops Oh wow, your posts bring back SO many memories. I had websites in the pre-dot-com-crash days and was a part of so many webrings and banner exchanges and blogrolls... I STILL put a links page on all of my websites out of habit. I agree with you completely. The only reason these technologies aren't still in use is because they couldn't be monetized by the large web 2.0 corporations. It's about time they be brought back...

@ifixcoinops We still use blogroll. Every once in a blue moon we get link requests. It's wild!

@ifixcoinops thanks for that write-up, that was inspiring! The only webring I sometimes encounter is the IndieWeb's. Banners have been a long long time.
Hey, I have a links page! Probably should put more on it. Like @rubenerd 's omake at

@ifixcoinops that's not how we stopped using livejournal, or myspace, or whatever. There wasn't a planned exodus. It's just that the most interesting people stopped listing things there, and there was less and less reason to go back and check.

Having muted everyone I found dull, my Facebook feed is at this point 50% adverts, 40% posts from brands I've accidentally "liked", and 10% shares of things I've already seen on Twitter. And those fucking random videos. I can keep up with that checking once a day - which is very much not enough eyeball time to keep them going.

And if, when *I* write something, I put it here not there, and at most pop a link to it into Facebook... It gradually makes Facebook's user-generated content less interesting for everyone else.

facebook conspiracy theories, covid, self-harm 

@bencurthoys I'm in the same boat, using FB less and less. I think the mid difference between FB and Myspace or Livejournal is that the body counts of MS or LJ were orders of magnitude lower. The longer FB stays online, the more people end up drinking bleach, eating horse dewormer, giving their children bleach enemas etc because fb actively recommends malevolent stuff in a way that MS or LJ didn't.

facebook conspiracy theories, covid, self-harm 

@bencurthoys So my thinking in setting a sudden end date rather than waiting for it to collapse on its own is a result of a sense of urgency; yes, people under 40 are generally using it less and less, and the under-30's are generally not signing up in the first place, the site is doomed, but it's not dying fast _enough_ for my liking.

@ifixcoinops I'm interested what your must-have and to-do lists look like in setting this up.

Are you looking at a Fediverse integration, maybe a Friendica or Hubzilla server — or something really old school, as I suspect from your threads?

I suppose privacy will be important, but also moderation, to avoid the FB info bubbles and dogpiles?

@haverholm Oh man I'm not gonna try and build facebook, I'm not crazy 😅 Probably just some banner exchange/webring scripts, compelling reasons to use them, guides on how to set up your own hobby website, that kind of thing. I haven't really thought about it much yet

@ifixcoinops Right, wasn't sure if you wanted to try and match FB features to lure users over 😉 So I guess you're going to advocate plain, lo-fi HTML/CSS instead?

The reason I wondered about one fediverse platform or other is that you mentioned turning hosting reseller. I've always been curious to see a web host offer federated services out of the box, with minimal user setup.

Sort of a hosted homesteading (host-steading?). Pay for the server space, security and maintenance, own your data. Wonder if that would catch on?

@haverholm I'm not gonna do a single heckin' thing until I've sat with the idea and the name and had a think about it! Yes, there's room and requirement for federation in there, but off the top of my head I'm inclined to say that matching facebook's feature set is a fool's errand. Everything that facebook currently does, it does *just* well enough to work *some* of the time; forums were infinitely better than fb groups, ebay/craigslist are better than fb marketplace etc

@haverholm so I'm thinking of federated stuff like peertube, mobilizon etc, but a big part of the whole "moving day" thing is to establish backup places where ppl can talk about what they need out of a fb replacement and hash out these details slowly in a chill environment, taking time to test, sit with and think about each new system in turn. I am definitely not trying to move fast

@ifixcoinops Sure, one hurdle is to re-educate people that it's actually better to use different sites* for different purposes. The perceived convenience of having everything under one "roof" is hard to shake.

) sites/services/platforms/whatever that doesn't use *you.

But I'm looking forward to whatever you come up with!

@ifixcoinops I could definitely get behind a banner exchange

@ifixcoinops 100% down for web rings and banners on my personal and company sites. We’ve had a similar conversation among the Thalamus devs, as a quick way to cross promote.

@ifixcoinops I presume you know of Fediring? But yes, if I still had a website, I'd have signed up. I used to have a webring too, back in the day, run out of BraveNet Webrings (remember those?). If Yahoo own a trademark, how did Bravenet get away with it for so long?

@dheadshot Oh man Bravenet was the best. I had so much Bravenet code running on my site. :D

@ifixcoinops After reading this entire chain, yes, I would absolutely sign up for a web ring or banner exchange.

I just run a tiny technical blog for myself.

(If anyone tries to visit it, yeah, the SSL cert has expired, Let’s Encrypt didn’t renew the cert and I haven’t had time to fix it.)

@ifixcoinops Webrings have been making a comeback. My website is part of some!

Yesterweb - Old web style websites (afaik)
Fediring - Websites of people in the fediverse
Hotline - General
Retronaut - Purely for the webring resurrection

Sign in to participate in the conversation

The original server operated by the Mastodon gGmbH non-profit